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SHAANTI PAATH – IN THE KATHA UPANISHAD

Om  Sa ha naa-wa-watu – sa ha nau bhunaktu                                                                                

Saha veeryam kara-waa-wa-hai

Tejaswi-naa’wa-dheetam astu  

Maa vidwishaa-wa-hai

May God protect and cherish both of us – the Teacher and the Student.  May we both – Teacher and Student – exert equal vigor on the subject taught in this Upanishad.   May our study of Divine Learning – Brahma Vidyaa – make us shine equally.   May we not dislike, or be hostile to, each other.

Om Shaantih – May Peace come to us from all Cosmic Forces!

Shaantih – May Peace come to us from all living creatures!!

Shaantih – May Peace come to us from our inner self!!

[This Invocation Shloka, found also in other Upanishads, has been chanted by Teachers and Students in Gurukula Centers of Education all over India and has inspired the tone in Education for centuries. This Shloka posits that no Teacher, true to his profession, can keep his knowledge to himself. He must, of necessity, expose himself to any student who genuinely seeks that Knowledge.  And, for illumination to be the end product of teaching and learning, both Teacher and Student must strive to achieve communion between their minds.  Without such a communion, Education – spiritual or secular – remains static, uninspired, and eventually, of no value to posterity. And, the deeper the communion is, the more fruitful is the communication of Knowledge from Teacher-as-Source to Student-as-Target.  The Teacher’s compassion and readiness to teach with diligence, and the Student’s trust and readiness to listen with focused attention, serve to cement their relationship. 

Western education fills our minds with statistics and cleverly informs us of facts. Eastern education achieves that objective, and even more – it makes our mind alert, vigorous, and luminous with the Light of Truth.  Vedas points to a harmonious blend between the pursuit of knowledge and excellence in character, something that modern education most times fails to do. Education is a journey from darkness to light. This journey can happen only when there is total trust, with no hostility, between teacher and student.  May we not dislike, or be hostile to, one other, they both chant as prayer.  When teacher and student give up mutual dislike and hate, and consequently the bond between them becomes strengthened, their discussions yield clarifications of important themes of knowledge and do not degenerate into a quagmire of ruinous arguments and misunderstanding.  The result is that they achieve a noble fulfillment of purpose.  

In addition, hate is intricately tied up with other negative emotions, like Anger, and these emotions create barriers between man and man. The current verse is telling us that it is Knowledge alone that breaks down these barriers, leading to Unity of Hearts and Concord of Minds.]

DR SATISH PRAKASH